May 27, 2010

Sub-continental Sunshine!

If you are a close enough watcher of the game of cricket, you will know that not only does every cricketing nation or group of nations have its own cricketing culture but also that such cultures have an influence on things as palpable as style. To see a Western Australian brought upon the livewire tracks of the WACA in Perth hook fearlessly; a South African anticipate the ball like Jonty Rhodes did in the nineties; a Sri Lankan right-hander have that almost rounded back lift and neat follow-through during the drives; a West Indian plonking the front-foot bravely to play a Richards-ian short-arm pull; or a Pakistani pace-man run in with momentum is the very sum and substance of inherited style. I would in fact go to the extent of asserting that it is precisely this variety which makes watching the game such an enthralling experience.

In this edition on style (and there may be more to come as we go on!), I would like to focus on a breed of sub-continent batsmen, particularly from India and Pakistan, who took cricketing artistry to the next level. And one thing common to the ilk of artistes to be discussed here irrespective of the country they played for, their cricketing upbringing, the times they played in, the genius they displayed and the number of runs they eventually scored is their wrist work. A century and a while ago the famed Ranjisnhji, who “invented” the leg glance, had opened the on-side as a possible area for scoring and caught the cricketing world’s imagination. The sub-continentals at least have taken the cue to their hearts and have not looked back.

It is often thought that among the the grandmasters on the on-side Azharuddin was among the ugulier what with his prodding rather than fluent style, his mowed rather than hit sixes and a tongue that constantly hanged out when he was in his elements. Yet few can question the sheer wizardry of the man when it came to the role the wrists played in his stroke-play. Hereabouts was a man who could almost turn anything to anywhere between long-leg to mid-wicket with effortless ease; and when he lost the tag of being a on-side bully, he showed us how even his straight drives and square-cuts were “rubbery” wrists over extension of the arms and sheer ingenious skill rather than brute strength.

Across the border two other Moslems, one I had both the privilege and exasperation of watching and another who I have just heard about, used their wrists to take touch-play and on-side play in particular to a different level. Responding respectively to the appellations of Javed Miandad and Zaheer Abbas, the Pakistani right-handers were both masters of footwork, good players of fast bowling, great players of spin and had legendary wrists. To see Miandad in especial play was to watch almost a sleeping batsman get to thirty or forty before you or even he knew it. The gentle glides and late dabs on the off-side, strokes executed with a late uncorking of wrists, are arguably his contribution to the one-day game and his spiritual understudy (arguably!) Mohammad Yousuf did him no harm by emulating the Pakistani master’s game to perfection in addition to playing those gorgeous extra-cover drives which were pure artistry (once again wrists rather than extension).

Fondly called “Vishy, Gundappa Vishwanath was another sub-continental stalwart whose stroke play, it is acclaimed, had a lot of wrist work about it. One of my life’s biggest cricketing regrets is not to have seen this little man from Karnataka play those gritty innings against Pakistan when the chips were down. It is indubitable that if he had played in an era that did not have a certain Sunil Manohar Gavaskar in it Vishy would have been considered a genius in his own right. Be that as it may, the gentleman’s contribution to sub-continental batting is every bit a class in itself.

With the modern game teetering on the fringes of its shortest format where brutal strength, flamboyance and cute innovations match wits with one another, there seems to be little scope to assess let alone appreciate and foster the subtle dexterity displayed by the greats of the yesteryear. It is not as if the ‘softer skills’ required of batsmen that be have been lost, but more often than not they do not come to the forefront. Thankfully though we still have in our midst stars who give us at least glimpses of the rich tradition of orthodoxy which would have been sheer magic to watch for spectators in the past.

Recent performances by guys like Mahela Jeywardena in the IPL or the world T20 is a case in point. The elbow starting forever at the skies, the bat following through on a full-arc following the momentum given by the wrists and the ball scorching the turf or sailing smoothly over the boundary boards still provide the sub-continental purist great joy for this is a brood that seems to be dwindling like Tigers in the Indian forests. And yet we should be privileged to have in our midst guys of the style and class of V.V.S Laxman, a man who could on-drive Shane Warne against the spin on a fourth day pitch at Eden Gardens en route to a majestic 281. And as far as masters of the wrist go, there are not many today who are better than the Hyderabadi stylist who when in full flight simultaneously brings to mind the fluent sights and the rustling sounds of an elegant river. 

May 20, 2010

A tale of two skippers!

Every game has its set of clich├ęs and cricket is no exception to the ‘hackney’ rule. They say a captain is only as good as the team he gets and over the years this fact has been formidably established if not by any other unit at least by the successful Australian cricket team which flanked either sides of the birth of the new millennium with untiring – for others boring – laps of honour. At the opposite end of the spectrum, great players, world beaters in their own right, have made abysmal captains and to be honest the teams they skippered were far from scratch: I wonder if one needs to go beyond Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara to make a case in point.

And yet, hereabouts there has been a Samsonesque Imran Khan who could transmute a group of raw boys into world beaters in the 1992 World Cup or a Chanakya-like Arjuna Ranatunga who could manoeuvre Sri Lanka homeward to the world cup in 1996. The brood of Imran is as rare as it gets; Navjot Sidhu might just invent a new one-liner and say blue moons do not occur as frequently as stars on the sky. Yet the recent success enjoyed by the English cricket team in white and coloured formats is besides being a team enterprise a tale of two captains, neither of whom can inspire poets, terrorise opponents, seduce fans to sit up and watch their game all night or even give the faintest ‘impression’ they can win impossible games. Yet both Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood share one thing in common – a sense of unstated resilience.

These are fickle times when one wonders – aside the most pragmatic of advice to the contrary and sensible optimism that accords Test cricket the credit still due to it – if pantaloons, cheer squads and T20 will take over the official banner of cricket. These are also times when punk-like upstarts and pigmy boys join in a battle for manhood within the terrains of this great game. Under the circumstances, it is a blessing that in Collingwood and Strauss, England has found two unspectacular sometimes extraordinarily embattled batsmen who have always given their best to the team and who in their leadership roles have done and will only do  wonders. To look at Collingwood’s and Strauss’ growth however will be to look at the demanding cultures they come from. That partly explains why the Middlesex left-hander and Durham right-hander have always come across as blokes who knew that their only way for survival, let alone getting to the top, was by doing the long yards and making most use of their ability.

Andrew Strauss comes from a South African backyard which had been blanketed and scarred by the cloud of Apartheid for several years. Strauss may not belong to an embittered generation which faced the cricketing ban or the ignominy and wrath that followed it, and yet in him you find an individual who is willing to work through difficult times even if he appears inelegant and ungainly rather than give his wicket away with an air of arrogance, a rash stroke or both. Even his strife against Shane Warne earlier in his career was just a question of a slightly loose technique being found out by the world's finest leg spinner and not of want of sincerity. Strauss brings a rather stern sense of doggedness to his batting and it probably influences his captaincy as well. It is indubitable that Strauss may never make a creative captain; or he may, time will tell. But he will always be a reliable man to go to especially when the chips are down as he showed with his wonderful batting in the Ashes last year. That is what you need from a man who opens the batting for you. Michael Atherton would agree. That is what you need from your test skipper. The likes of Graham Gooch would not demur.

Paul Collingwood’s background is not anything flashy either. He comes from a working class family in Durham, as Peter Roebuck writes, and there is the unmistakable touch of the frustrated but persistent workaholic about his stay in the middle. In fact, his ascendancy through the rank and file of the English batting line-up has mirrored a man coming to terms with his strengths and limitations and optimalising them in contributing the best to his team. Exemplified, his sixes do not have the flamboyant flourish of a Kevin Pietersen lofted stroke; his square-drive may not invite the purists to applaud; nor is his defence something a Dale Steyn or Muralidharan would lose sleep over and yet he braved the South Africans on the last day a couple of times earlier this year playing instrumental roles in the nail-biting draws they salvaged. At times, one gets the feeling that he has only half a bat as he nudges those singles busily into the gaps. But rest assured, beyond the superficially itinerant style is a thinking cricketer, a street-smart individual and a a man committed to the cause of his team. In his temperament more than anything else, there is a little of Dravid and a little of Steve Waugh about him. That he was at the helm for England when they won their first major limited overs tournament a few days ago may not be a selectors’ master stroke; but if it is coincidence let it be and he certainly deserves it. Importantly, he had a team which played to deserve it.

In a by and large conservative cricket country, England has two captains who are conservative by looks and in lacking the extravagance some of their compatriots have in the team. Yet neither can be bullied down into submission and Strauss and Collingwood are arguably among the top fighters in the team. In a rather non-obvious sense, they are a chip off the old block. One may wonder if I say this because of the splotches of success England has experienced under the two men. It may be true to an extent about Strauss, and yet why not? Nothing succeeds like success and Strauss’ Ashes campaign last year is among the most stellar skies seen by an England captain in a very long time. As for Collingwood, he has been a personal favourite for a while and it is heartening to see him being an essential cog in the English wheel. Together, Strauss and Collingwood have few more years of guidance and victories within their respective grasps. And if the England team does not fall inexplicable prey to spates of injury or disorientation like they have often done in the past then both can call time with their names in the Honours’ Board of England’s better captains. It would be nothing less than they deserve.
   

May 14, 2010

World T20 Twitter Style

 

This post is an armchair view of how it would be if all the teams have a twitter account and Interacted with each other.

Before we start let me introduce something to  non- tweeples

wIndia – This is a Twitter handle or a username

@ZIM- @ replies are used for mentions to whom it is addressed

#desp – These are hashtags, which when you click on them, will show collection of the tweets under that hash tag

RT- Means Retweet. If someone likes the tweet, they add RT and once again tweet the same tweet to share them.

april 28th via snubtu- This shows up the date and the application they used to tweet. I have used variants of Snaptu, chromed bird, tweetdeck, web and Friendly.

THE START OF THE TOURNAMENT


wIndia: We will win this tournament. We had on-field and off-field practice in the #IPL  no warm up matches for us
april 28 via Terrific   

6pak:  Looking forward to banning players after this tournament.I am cool, my name has 6 packs
april 28 th via wept

Kangaroomates: Good day mates! got to include this cup in our kitty #Desp Bad start, lost to @ZIM in the warm-up match 
april 28th via snubtu

Blackeyedcaps: @kangaroomates u r just a mate we’re the Captain :P #PJ
april 28th via flightless Bird

ZIM: @Bangla @Irishjig @Al_afghan  We can cause an upset
april 28th via revolution

Bangla: @ZIM Irishjig and Al-Afghan are not on twitter. A/c only for Test playing or played nation. Lets ask for reservation quota
april 28th via tweetduck

Poms: You mean Stomach upset? hahaha RT @ZIM: @Bangla @Irishjig @Al_afghan  We can cause upset
april 28th via Snobtu

Proteas: Looking forward to a semi-final exit and a treat from whomever we lose to, in the semis or when we get out of the tournament
april 29th via wept

SriLaanka: Looking forward to play some good crickut on the bouncy wickut
april 29th via  naptu

Windies: Yo maan! all thanks for comin to the West Indies.  Lets party with calypso                      
april 30th via Friendly bar


THE GROUP STAGES  OF THE TOURNAMENT

Poms: @ZIM @Bangla @Irishjig @Al_afghan Indeed we had a stomach upset after eating hot food :P
may 8th via Snobtu

Proteas: oops we did it again but this time a super 8 exit. @6pak where is our treat for losing to you
may 10th via wept

SriLaanka: Crickut triumphs @wIndia change ur handle to bondiya hahaha
may 11th via  naptu

wewillwIndia:  We need vaastu consultant to move WI accordingly with help of hanuman. Our brother @6pak screwed us by getting into the semis
may 11thvia wept   

6pak: @wewillwIndia We have 6 packs you guys have a single pack. Send us a dossier with DNA test results. We refuse your allegation of  being brothers
may 12th via web

6pak: @proteas If  you ask too much we will send some Taliban we are extraditing from our country. Ask at your own risk!
may 12th via unfriendlybar

Blackeyedcaps: @Proteas we’re one of a kind, partners in crime, sad we have to settle for super 8’s rather than a semifinal exit #desp
may 12th via snubbedtu

Kangaroomates:  From @wIndia to @wewillwIndia ROFL  mate you guys are rockstars.Yet another semifinal for us we are bored of winning
may 12th via snubtu

Windies: Yo maan at least we can beat everyone in drinkin rum and dancing to calypso  B-)                      
may12th via friendly bar

 

THE SEMIFINALS  OF THE TOURNAMENT

Poms:  Lads! first time we played like we invented the game. We want our first trophy ever #epicwin
may13th via Snobtu

Blackeyedcaps: Sun sets in Britain but Piesterson doesnt, after his wife gave birth to a Pietergrandson and gave @Srilaanka a spanking
may 13th via  flightless bird

wewillwIndia: LOL RT @Blackeyedcaps Sun sets in Britain but Piesterson doesnt settle in Britain after his wife gave birth to Pietergrandson and gave us spanking
may14th via web

wewillwIndia: We got bashed in the bar by our fans. No! not the opposition team fans, they love us.
may14th via unfriendly brawl

SriLaanka: We didn't play good crickut. we played inconsistent crickut and payed for it
may 11th via  naptu

6pak: we are playing on the land named after a maulana hope we do well. insha allah
may 13th via naptu

Windies: @6pak thinks Beausejour is  named after a Maulana after i told de pronunciation Bos-e- zoor to dem LOL ROFL
may 13th via snubtu

Kangaroomates:  Yet another final for us. We are not amazed, all you low lives must be. @6pak pack your bags mate! LOL
may 14th via snubtu

6pak: We are going back, at least Umar Akmal facially abused @kangaroomates by wearing a green zinc cream on his mouth
may 14th via unfriendly bar

6pak: @wewillwIndia I will call the USA, lets hold peace talks since we both have crashed out now. Deal ya no Deal 
may 15th via  Friendly bar

THE FINALS  OF THE TOURNAMENT

Poms: @kangaroomates dress rehearsal for ashes hei?  lets call this final “The bashes”, purists say that t20 has killed the game how apt, isn't it? “ ashes after the bashes”
may15th via Snobtu

Kangaroomates:  @Poms The seeds you sowed in our land is gonna haunt you. Get ready to be bashed
may 14th via snubtu

wewillwIndia: we have first hand experience +1 RT @Kangaroomates: @Poms The seeds you sowed in our land is gonna haunt you. Get ready to be bashed
may15th via unfriendly brawl

Poms: Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the champion of them all. Its me its me ! @kangaroomates
may16th via Snobtu

Proteas: @Kangaroomates Looks like you did a @proteas and lost in the final hahaha
may 16th via wept

Kangaroomates:  We lost because, the image of facial abusing was still left in our mind. Here is the twitpic. http://bit.ly/b871FA Thats Faecial vilificaetion mate!
may 14th via snubtu

Poms: @kangaroomates Hahaha you can block all of us but not the ICC #Kangaroomatesblocks
may15th via Snobtu

Windies: Yay! Maan we didnt pull off another bummer we broke even this time unlike the WC in 2007  Dis calls for a Rum pum pum party!!!
may 13th via snubtu

ICC: Congrats @Poms for winning it after 35 yrs @Kangaroomates hard luck. Looking forward to the cramped schedule and more injuries
May 17th via Friendly Bar

Thanks for reading you can follow me on Twitter @Vencurd

Yet Another Fast bowler Calls it quits

I always knew this was coming but hoped this doesn't happen.  Shane Bond, one of the few fast bowler who can genuinely the swing the ball at pace has called it quits from all forms of the game. First it was Freddie Flintoff, then Bret Lee and then was Shane Bond who called it quits in Test Matches before finally retiring from all forms of the game.

  This Brings us to an important Question which does sound like News channel Poll “Are we making Fast Bowling a rare commodity?” My answer would be an overwhelming yes. The quality of Bowling has certainly decreased thanks to the rules framed to protect the batsmen. Moreover Fast bowlers are now looked like a drop from the heavens above the desert. Where in the old days every other team used to have one of them but for India. Seriously something needs to be done to counter this or else you only see spinners and dipply doply bowlers opening the bowling.

After one season at the IPL  Shane Bond has thrown in the towel from all forms of the game. I hope that includes IPL too, because that might send wrong signals to youngsters. One Has to keep in mind that the world cup is just a year away and I feel he had ample left in him to last one year in 2 forms of the game. To add to it New Zealand cricket team doesn't play that much cricket compared to other teams either.Keeping in mind this not the first time he chose to play for league rather than country, considering the ICL. This is what which left a bad taste in my mouth. Has he done it again to the Kiwis? Lets wait and watch.

Moreover we cannot blame an individual for choosing his livelihood or earning money. Everyone earns money, why should cricketers doing irk angry reaction? But if this trend continues International cricket will soon loose its zing. A stitch in time saves nine, they say, hope something is done and done quickly. 

Leaving all the hullaballoo behind, purely from a cricket point of view Shane Bond has been the the best sight there ever was, there ever is and ever will be at least for me. I grew up watching Bond poking the eyes of the batsmen and make them dance with his swing and pace. I started Bowling  just to mimic his action ended being a decent one.

I leave you with my Idol Shane Bond gunning down his favorite prey the Aussie kangaroo

Ever since I saw this 6/23 I fell for him. Thanks for the memories Mr Shane Bond though you played “Hide and seek with us” throughout your career. All best for your coaching career or whatever you do in your life

May 10, 2010

Chin Music!

As an ardent fan of the Indian Cricket Team who backs the team to perform consistently well, it is tiring to talk about the topic time and time again. And yet, neither do we stop talking nor has there been any improvement over the last couple of years in terms of what I refer to. And if you need a most recent example that will animate your memory more than ancient ones, the Indian top order's dismal showing against the West Indian quicks at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Sunday (May 9, 2010) is a case in point. And what was pathetic to see was that even someone like Gambhir, who has become very accomplished over the last two seasons, looked ungainly against the short stuff although one must admit that the delivery that got him was a jaffa; lesser batsmen may not have got a glove to it.

Although we did not give away many wickets to the short delivery directed well, the discomfiture and the toad-hopping was visible for all to see. Consequently, the Indian batsmen could not put the bad stuff away. Vijay got a half tracker which he hit right down the throat of the man at deep square-leg - the only man there. Yusuf Pathan later in the day, when all was almost beginning to get lost, once again showed his vulnerability against the shorter stuff as he holed out at square-leg. 

One can go on forever about selection - not only about the composition of the playing eleven but also the fifteen member squad picked for the tournament but India's display in this T20 World Cup is likely to once again herald a discussion that unfortunately seems undying as far as the new generation of Indian batsmen are concerned. Harsha's words summing Raina's discomfort against quick short bowling can be justifiably generalised to every other player, perhaps with the exception of Yuvraj Singh (who has not been in form) and M. S. Dhoni who at least tries to attack short-pitched stuff: "This is a generation of cricketers which looks extremely good only in some conditions..." I could not agree more. Bhogle's tweets this morning signify much the same as well.

I have no disrespect for the Rainas, the Rohit Sharmas or the Yusuf Pathans; but what one fails to understand when they go slam-bang in batsman-friendly conditions in the IPL back home is precisely what one understands when one sees them settle back to mortality against world class quick bowling. Some may say that T20 and one-day internationals are the lot for these cricketers but that is not only a parochial way of looking at it - for most of these cricketers may want to match wits with the best at the test level some day - but entirely misses the point. Excuses are the quickest way to sink down a bottomless pit and shamefully enough we have always been good at giving them.

The problem, however, has its parentage in the times of which these cricketers are a part: short boundaries, flat pitches to encourage high-scoring affairs which somehow inexplicably - and abominably - attract big crowds, curtailments on a bowler's freedom (as if the game were not batsman-friendly already!) and all the rest of it. For batsmen from the subcontinent in particular - and I include Pakistan and Sri Lanka too for they have not played the short stuff all that well either - success in domestic cricket gives a false sense of security and lulls them into a state of achievement, or worse, even complacency. That is because not only do they not get to see anyone who is even a shadow of a Steyn, a Jerome Taylor or a Lee but they also play on wickets which are either square turners or have nothing in it for the bowlers. This cannot be good preparatory ground for any cricketer.

Some may tell me, and have told me so in the past: what's wrong in playing to one's strengths? Since Australians never prepare turners and South Africa never prepares slower wickets when Sri Lanka or India visit thereabouts, why should we prepare sporting wickets? I am tempted to answer the counterpoint in two ways. Playing to one's strength is NOT wrong at all and the analogy of other countries playing on conducive backyards is indeed an argument which holds some tooth. However, at the domestic level playing 'only' to one's strengths turns out to be detrimental, not for anybody else but for domestic cricketers who grow up in those backyards. At the end of the day, a ground curator may get a glare or a stern rebuke; the board may get away with some uncharitable headlines from the media; but domestic cricketers when they travel abroad to make the cut fail to make the grade. And that is a terribly sorry state of affairs.

I am candidly unconcerned about the prosperity, or lack of it, of T20 cricket. I am a self-proclaimed supporter of the game played hard, tough, patiently and diligently in whites across five days. And despite the frenzy the game's quick bite format has created, I still think we have not come to a stage where players may consciously abandon the idea of playing test cricket which shows how much esteem the game's traditional format hold's in everyone's heart. But the developments elsewhere in the game may soon bring a stage where some are just not good enough for the long format and the long haul.

A Mahela Jeyawardena or a Jacques Kallis epitomises those who have made the shift from being class test players to fine T20 cricketers. And yet the game also has Yuvraj Singhs who do not just have the right temperament, or in fact the technique, to handle the sustained belligerence of good fast bowling in a test match. A Virendra Sehwag - even though he does not play the hook or the pull - is an exception, and exceptions are better left alone. And if the indications of the modern breed of Indian middle order batting is anything to go by, I shudder to think of the day when Dravid and Tendulkar will both have hung up their boots. I know no individual is indispensable and the Indian Cricket Team, like any unit of many members, will survive their retirement. But if we want to make the transition anywhere near smooth, the BCCI has to do some quick thinking on a lot of fronts. It has had to do that for a number of years and has not done it. One hopes at least that the continued barrage of bouncers against the mid-twenties of the Indian batting line up and their obvious maladroitness in handling it wakes up some dull minds and sets some constructive action in motion.     
        

May 7, 2010

Two cursed statisticians and T20!

Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis were cursed yet again; no their crime was not doing Mathematics and Physics and Mathematics and Statistics respectively at esteemed British Universities. Their mistake seems to have been developing the Duckworth-Lewis system for one-day international cricket – which determines what aggregate the chasing team should have after every over given the wickets they have used up. In last week’s T20 WC match between England and the West Indies, the method had to be employed again and West Indies who had by then got off to a blistering start finished off the target they needed with balls to spare. England who had put up a solid overall total stood shortchanged and the weakness of the method was yet again exposed. England captain Paul Collingwood was not pleased and said as much. 

There are two ways of looking at a method like the D & L one – in a scientific (or Mathematical) context and in a sporting context. But before I do that I am tempted to relive for you all the sort of absurdity that prevailed before the D&L method came in just to show that the method, for all intent at least, was intended to ensure fair play to chasing teams and prevent absurdities like the 1992 world cup semi-finals between England and South Africa. I do not think even the average cricket fan is likely to forget the match.

South Africa needed 22 runs off 23 balls (or something) when the first of three (if I am right) mini-interruptions caused by the weather happened. After the first of these interruptions, the balls game down to 19 and after the second the number of balls came down to twelve or below that. Strangely enough, the bulk of the runs to be scored never came down! I still remember the expression of daze across faces in both English and South African dressing rooms. But the best, rather the preposterous, was yet to come. After the third delay, South Africa needed 22 runs of ONE BALL! After two decades of isolation from the sport due to Apartheid, South Africa’s first World Cup campaign ended in a comedy of errors – or at least in the tragedy of Statistics or Mathematics whatever you want to attribute the humungous succession of blunders to. I am sure the dispassionate observer as well as the average Tom Doe who came to the match laughed out loud, more from the entertainment provided by the calculation rather than the match. If the South Africans had felt miffed, or downright murderous, you could only understand!

I still do not know what went wrong: whether there was a system in place or none at all is anybody’s guess. But it was in the wake of such unbelievable stupidity on the cricket field – in a world cup semi-final of all matches – that the necessity for a sound statistical method that would be a guide to chasing teams was felt profoundly. From 1996, we have had the D/L method and to say the method has been controversial is an understatement.

I would not go into great details about what the method actually does because though it sounds complicated it is not: you can google about it to find out more. However, the method is grounded on two types of numbers regarded as resources on a cricket field for a batting team – the number of overs and number of wickets used up. Few would question the validity of considering the number of overs batted and wickets lost in the process as resources (relative to the score of the opposition) in a one-day international. Statistically too – and I am not qualified to go into statistics proper – I am sure the system has its strengths. But the problem lies in the fact that the system cannot mimic one variable in cricket, or for that matter, sport – unpredictability. It was precisely this that England found out against the West Indies as well last week.

A team that is on a rampage can suddenly fall apart; and then a team whose middle-order fails in pursuit of a modest target can still reach home in a close chase courtesy gritty efforts by tail-enders. Not for nothing is it said in cricket that no match is over till the last ball is bowled. Chases are often complicated, in other words made thrilling, by conditions of the pitch as well. In the recent IPL, a city like Bangalore often assisted the chasers because of the dew factor later in the evening whereas in Delhi, and less spectacularly in Navi Mumbai, the pitches slowed down considerably in the second half making chasing a difficult prospect. Admitted, nobody asks statisticians to come up with a system that factors in any of the things mentioned in this paragraph for it is not their business to design for the unpredictable (or simply put, what is not statistically predictable). Yet that unpredictability in fact is the very essence of any sport, the substance of all enthralling spectacles which animate the human imagination.

Viewed objectively, therefore, it seems to me that the D/L method may not be as flawed as commentators, teams, bowlers, fielders and fans make it out to be; it is not good enough, sure, but for reasons intrinsic to cricket and yes statisticians and the game’s administrators should (have) be(en) aware of it. I am not a math person, perhaps my co-blogger here may be able to help, but I cannot think of too many methods that can turn out to be tailor-made for the game. Particularly keeping in mind the fact that T20 is a fast-paced affair, one may have to give up the statistical ghost because 3 balls can tilt the game this way or that way. I do not think any algorithm can predict that. That’s the way sport goes; that’s the way life goes. Sometimes, you win games you had no business winning and other times you are shocked into submission. It is all a part and parcel of the excitement.